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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  February 1, 2012 9:00am-12:00pm EST

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to rebuild once president assad and his regime is transitioned and something new and better takes its place. .. from a new and edit takes its place. predicted inside and outside syria have become planning for a democratic transition and the syrian national counsel to the courageous grass-roots local councils across the country who are organizing under the most dangerous and difficult circumstance is. every day that goes by their task is difficult. the feature. it's a strong and unified nation depend on thwarting the cynical divide and conquer strategy. it'll take off your hands working together, christians hand-in-hand with sunni and druze side by side, arabs and kurds to ensure the new syria is governed by the rule of law, respect to protect the universal
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rights of every citizen, regardless of atmosphere sex and takes on the way to the corruption that has marked the assad regime. for this to work on the serious minorities will join in shaping serious future and their rights and choices will have to be heard, protect and respected. and then we say to the reach them today, we hear your fears and your aspiration. do not let the current regime exploit them to extend this crisis. leaders of serious nearness immunity, military and other dictation will have to recognize their futures lie with the state and not the regime. syria belongs to it 23 million citizens, not to one man or his
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family. change can still be accomplished without dismantling the state or producing new tyranny. it is time for the international community to put aside our differences and send a clear message of support to the people of syria. the alternative? burning the arab league, abandoning the syrian people, emboldening the deck tater what compound this tragedy. and what market failure failure of our share price on stability and shake the credibility of the united nations security council. the united states stands ready to work with every member in this chamber to pass a resolution that supports the arab league suffered because those are the efforts that are well thought out and focused on ending this is. uphold the right of the serious people and restores peace to
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syria. that is the goal of the arab league. that should be the closest council, to help the syrian people realize the goal of the future the ac. thank you. >> i think the excellent the for statement. i now give the floor to your excellency, mr. hu jintao, minister of the republic of france. [speaking in native tongue] >> translator: mr. president, we are meeting today so that the security council should take up this responsibility as a people that is suffering in a region where peace is threatened by the brutal russian of the regime. the silence of our council formats is no longer accept the will. it folds to the arab league to
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recover itself from solemnly on the council to live up to the nation vested upon it by the united nations coming today to the people of the region we wish peace and respect. the arab league has asked to meet the situation, the dispatch of the definition transition i wish to commend the courageous commitment of the conflict and i welcome the president and secretary general and prime minister of qatar have not the addresses. i also commend the kingdom of sirocco to bring to us fully supported by france. i wish the commander to connect the arab league. i am well aware that decisions
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on the situation in syria are particularly difficult to take an implement if only because of their geographical opportunity to damascus. today when i repeat this they are coming to put an end to this scandalous night. i choose to work carefully and i shall explain use of the term. but as the situation in syria? people have risen up to defend its freedom. there are no words to describe the horror of the brutal repression. if we say it is worsening, that does not fully express what is happening. thousands of deaths, 15,000 prisoners, 15,000 refugees, the torture every day. i have for a long time termed the regime of crimes against humanity, the international
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acquired human rights council confirmed the conviction. they conceal the faces of torture of children come the bodies of women who have been and thousands of human beings. with them in mind, the situation is worsening every day in humanitarians say how much dreadful mistake before the council to council to an end to human rights for the humanitarian assistance. every state must bear the responsibility to protect its population not to contend with its population of syrian regime without restraint in a shameful manner. this has direct consequences on international peace and security, thousands of refugees of the neighboring states increased intercommunity attention than repercussion of stability in an already vulnerable region without even referring responsibility to
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protect in the region to establish the council's responsibility. france ties accord further council to work to have a vote unsuccessfully for this statement is acceptable. is this scandalous? i think so. obviously we have continued to back on the indemnification said the european union has tightened sanctions. we've established the peaceful opposition night and other locations later said the syrian national account of. we commend the result. but however that may be your opinion of the arab league cannot replace conferred upon
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them by the united nations charters in the council which can express today the international community and security council is the keystone of peace and security to pronounce on such syria. how can i do this by rapidly and with pride matcher supported tap in the resolution by morocco. this brings the sport of our council to the arab league, the strength to be crucially involves a free show at it today the only protagonist to provide a realistic political resolution. two essential elements. unequivocally condemn without falling into the trap of false comparisons as the action of opposition on the ground because the vast majority of syrians are handed in the streets against discriminate islands of the regime. we must respect the men and
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women who every day march for freedom where they could be shocked at the moment. i would also -- this is unmentioned by the french journalist who died at his job and i will not allow this to be ex-waited. the syrian authorities should have been necessary protection. i have to note this has not been the case. when it comes to the report which has been distributed to us, it does not do anything about the origin of the exchange which led to the death of my compatriot, ammunition does indicate killed fire from the operation. this is not adored by the arab league and we are still on the
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deficit. the second essential element in a draft provides support of the council to the arab league initiative regarding the three main aspect. demand for free access and essentially the credible transitional political process. it will be for the arab league to implement a responsibility to help it by addressing the clear message to the series machine the community united to hang the arab emirates. and we would like to see the complicating further. we need a rapid response which can provide a facelift resolution to this terrible crisis. we are therefore willing to vote now upon morocco. some of jocund spares than. it is alleged that there is a way of making to the military intervention.
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the draft resolution that the representative of morocco can be construed as an optimization for the use of force. this draft is not under chapter seven and we are not preparing any military operation. the tragedy and then people. our goal is simply to find a peaceful way out of the crisis, allowing two various component and nobody else than that determine the future with no intention of opposing on a machine and the outside. the arab league offers the only prospect of achieving this goal. let us rise above our differences and support the plan submitted to us today. but if of a two responsibilities to the political and moral duty following to us as a result of the rising of the syrian people
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inspired by momentum of the arab spring. a decent gentleman come in no time the last. i'm less than a year, more than 5000 lives have been lost each week means hundred of more deaths each day, dozens more. and the memory of victims i urge members of the count votes about so they can put an end to this syria nightmare. thank you. [inaudible] >> by now kids the floor to the excellency of the commenters said the kingdom on the right. >> mr. president, i too think the prime minister of qatar and prime minister of the league of arab states for their reports and their powerful words and they are all grateful to you,
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mr. president for presiding over this debate. our task at the council is clear. we must address the horrifying violence that has been an s-sierra for the last 10 months which is an unmitigated tragedy for people of that country and a real threat for international peace and security and we must do so in a way that gives us the greatest possible chance for a peaceful and lasting security. the league of arab states has proposed a way to achieve it and they should be congratulated on supported in doing so. their plan is that the hired to the draft resolution by the kingdom of morocco. they do so with the full support of the united kingdom and then i think that the support of the majority of security council members. if implemented in full, the arab league plan would lead to an end to all violence and
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institutions. it would remove the family box to reform medicare confident the syrian people. the restart and inclusive syrian mud political process and allow the syrian people to determine their future peacefully and it would lead to a national unity government and election. syria needs out of conflict in missouri and with this plan, the arab league has provided one that is credible and viable and they have done so after three months of engagement provided by the secretary-general there are sites syria on the multiple visits to the masters by ministerial delegates and arab nations on the faces of the world of over 150 arab league monitors inside the area and in the light of their own understanding of their own region. the arab world is now asking u.n. security council to put it
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behind this plan. this is not the west telling area way to do. it's not the permanent members of the security council seeking to impose their view. this is the arab nation, and on the u.n. security council to help advance the crisis of area and the threat it poses to stability. the general has come here and urged not to let that is tearing people down in their flight. members of the council have often called for leadership and that should be respect to. by all nations of the world. and a member of the council today claims to have a better -- be in a better position to judge how to support the stability and these arab nations themselves. the resolution does not propose imposing change on syria from outside. the call from the syrian people to be allowed to make their
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choices for themselves. it does not call for military action and could not be used to authorize it and the secretary-general has the plan of the arab league specifically does not include any outside intervention. it is not a job there resolution but it showed in our view notice the measures will be considered by this council. there is not an immediate end to the violence as the plan continues to be ignored. the warning is important. but too long to see her in government has promised and continued the violent. at any time over the last 10 months they could have stopped the bloodshed and they could've introduced bold and lasting reform and meet the aspirations of syria for greater political freedom. the facts speak for themselves. when this council adopted a presidential statement of syria
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in august last year, the death toll was the products that lay one house in. when they drafted security council resolution in october and vetoed them, 3000 people had died. today we believe nearly 6000 soviets have died and this includes as we occurred 384 children between 30 and 100 people currently die every single day of violent. they will be dying as these be. thousand mourners are imprisonment, violent, children. representatives of the arab republic spoke of the idealism of children in this country in the 1950s and 1960s without noting the irony and the children of 2012 are now being tortured and murdered in the name of their own government.
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it is not acceptable to try to blame the situation on everyone else from outside intervention to the golden state, two french diplomat, to lawrence of arabia. this does not excuse the repression of violent, which is a shame on any nation. we know about these kinds because they've been documented by impartial bodies of united nation. how understeering families have to live in fear their children would be killed or tortured before the security council will pass a meaningful resolution? how many people need to die? the people of syria can't afford to wait the more force promises are measured from their governments are accompanied by brutality on the ground. there will be no political progress in syria was such violent continues and they can be no doubt that the violent and
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the risk of civil war intensifying and the threat and stability of the region is growing. with each day, finding the way back from the brink of a hard and innocent life, desperate discounts could help avert dayak team in a united manner. today as i understand it, we all agree it has a role to play. we all want a peaceful, political solution that has territorial integrity. we all agree the process should be that the people of syria was support of the international community. we are believed to of minority to be safeguarded and respect it. we'll agree military action would not be welcome in the work of the area based on all those
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things, now we must have the will to match the agreement had been able to agree on a resolution. while they meet mr. president the greatest of responsibilities of crimes like overwhelming syrian authority. this council cannot agree to it to the resolution condemning violent and enabling a peaceful resolution, do not fill your other council will be judged by the listeria in the region. we should unite behind the arab league plan and that is what i urge all members of the count votes to do this week. we should remain the business situation in your returning to the violence still companies. to fail to do so with underline the credibility do so wit town
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town thank you. >> we welcome the l.a. initiative for connecting today's meeting. the participation of qatar. we are together today at a crucial moment when it is the last chance to break this spiral of violence which is set to a syria and the exacerbation of the crisis and chaos of the full-scale conflict would not only be a tragedy for syrian people, but inevitably ask you about consequence for stability of neighboring states and escalated strategically important region. what is the solution here? what does the international community do to prevent alternative event? the answer is as complicated as it is simple.
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it has roots in the security council members did come essentially decided the beginning of the crisis for not over was agreed upon. this document contain two critical provisions. a cessation of violence and solution to the crisis can be found not only through searing red inclusive political process. if all key players of the international community on implementing the provisions then we are convinced the crisis would not be a pass. unfortunately, this hasn't been the case. russia, which enjoys close family contacts of the syrian people and the arab world from the very beginning it had to ensure this here in april would be allowed to decide for itself without bloodshed and violence data format for necessaries social, economic and political
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form. we are convinced that kind of extreme political crisis, with the international community should not be one of exacerbating conflicts by madeleine by the use of economic sanctions or military force. now, should be fostering dialogue so i seized the can not only affect did in huge resolution. with a view to cessation of violence and establishing syria led process, russia step up its diplomatic efforts with damascus. members of the christian movement and the league of arab states. in our view, the leak made an important role in international guidance of the solution to syrian crisis. russia has done much to ensure that l.a. is an amount just achieve agreement on that l.a. is monitoring mission in syria.
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at the beginning stage of his work, and important useful role in the wee contention violences slow as key importance has been providing more objective information on nature unfolding events in syria in spite of pressure brought to the mission. the mission's report from 24 to 18 january 2012, it is clearly confirmed in a number of serious neighborhood, armed elements are attacking areas 34 saves and civilians. this gave rise to the conclusion that all sides must take an obligation to see phones of violence. we know from different stores is and the city after the city was captured by armed elements, murderers and beatings began.
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the country of ambassador this polluted. civilians say and then session of the mission the week pollution that in parallel with the dignity that must be connect to it between defiance in the political process is so. we enjoyed not only to support our arab friends, but also unnecessary of us is to criticize her inconsistent teeth. we made no secret we believe the decision to suspend the membership of damascus in the leak and impose sanctions was safe. we think the lake's position with respect to the mission could be more current. on one leg of the cats continued mission. on the other some have begun withdrawing observer. we are concerned with the recent decision on suspension of the
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recognition. this is going to loosen up a can violence as well as some thing which was viewed on a saudi tv station was a religious leader giving his blessing. we think the work of the mission in the near future shift to new with the relevant support from all sides. a particular importance in the content of efforts to settle the price is, the lis -- provision of the ugliest initiative from january 2012, this provision could prove useful as a cause of governments and all representatives of the opposition to work in dialogue under engaged in dialogue is not only diplomats but also politician.
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we think so. this is the very reason on 15 december 2011 the russian delegation presented a draft resolution to the council to, drawing on the political front of three august. received weight among the council but we distributed its updated version yesterday. moreover, we suggest that in drawing up a decision that council should be guided by the
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principle of non-imposition your we will not stand for any sanctions resolutions or using the council's toolbox so as to fuel conflict, or possibly justify any foreign intervention in the future. but this is not the matter at hand. the council cannot impose for a political settlement. it simply does not happen under the charter. sides must be engaging in dialogue rather than intimidated to do so. we, therefore, have taken into account the draft resolution presented by morocco. we found some of the elements of our text in and this gives rise for hope. we hope that the council come to consensus on the syrian issue as not only possible but also necessary. thank you.
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>> i think the jump in for a statement. i give the floor to the representative of china. you have the floor. in mr. president, welcome to our meeting, his excellency, prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of qatar, secretary-general of the arab league and ambassador of syria, i welcome their briefings to the council. syria is an important country in the middle east. its stability concerns the security and -- >> you can see the security council meeting in its entirety in the c-span video library. we're leaving it now because of the u.s. senate is about to gavel in to start the day. there will be general speeches for the first hour or so. about 10:30 a.m. lawmakers will resume work on legislation aiming to stop insider trading by neighbors of congress and their staff. that bill known as the stock act is the subject of in a minute of the past couple of days.
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more amendments of possible votes are expected today. and now live to the senate floor here on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. lord, the earth belongs to you, the world and everything in it. you are an awesome and majestic god.
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when we've anxieties about what the future holds, remind us that the hearts of kings, queens, and presidents are in your hands, and you guide them wherever you please. you are sovereign. today bless our lawmakers. give them a positive attitude regarding the challenges they face. lord, help them believe that you love this nation and will empower them with exactly what they need to lead with excellence. we pray in your great name.
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amen. the presiding officer: thank you, dr. black. please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c, february 1, 2012. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable richard j. durbin, a senator from the state of illinois, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: daniel k. inouye, president pro tempore. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: the presiding
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officer and all senators should understand we have a new sheriff in the senate now, and we wish elizabeth mcdonough well. she's certainly well-qualified thor this job and she's proven in the decade she's been here her fairness and astuteness of the senate rules. following morning business, the senate will be in a period of morning business for an hour. the republics will control the first half. the majority will control the final half. following that morning business, we'll resume consideration of the stock act. mr. president, it is my understanding the republicans are going to have a luncheon today. i hope they discuss what they want to do here on the senate floor. last night we had a situation where two of our fine senators, senator lieberman and senator
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collins, they have a reputation of being fair and bipartisan, and they did their best to work through some amendments, to set up votes on them. and they couldn't do it because we had senators who offered amendments that had nothing to do with this bill, nothing. but they -- republican senators -- said that they would not allow a vote on germane and relevant amendments until they got a vote -- they were guaranteed a vote on their nongermane amendments. well, that's not a situation, and we cannot legislate in that fashion. it's one thing to offer an amendment that's not germane, but to demand a vote on it out of order before any other amendments? so the minority has to make a decision whether they want to legislate or have morning business and have people give speeches all day that have nothing to do with morning business.
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i mean, have nothing to do with the legislation. so i hope that the leadership and the senators generally on the other side of the aisle will work together to help us move this piece of legislation out of here. it is an important piece of legislation. we were told it was bipartisan. only two senators voted against breaking the filibuster so we could start debating this. finally, mr. president, republicans in congress claim often that they are the only thing standing against a wave of deficit spending, but where were these republicans when president bush pushed for trillions -- plural, trillions -- in unpaid tax cuts for the rich? where were they? they were right here in congress, that's where. so instead of pointing the finger at us, republicans should examine their own track record of extravagant spending, the prescription drug plan unpaid
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for, two unpaid wars, unpaid for, i repeat, tax breaks for the rich, unpaid for, and they were paid for -- borrowed money, money borrowed from the american taxpayers -- trillions of dollars. in fact, president bush's tax cuts were the single biggest factor to the ballooning budgets during his administration. they were others but that was number one and no one benefited from these tax breaks more than billionaires and millionaires. tax breaks for the richest americans piled nearly $1 trillion on our debt over the last decade. the last bill was far more than that, but that's just people making more than $1 million a year. yesterday the nonpartisan congressional budget office release add report that showed
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these tax cuts will continue to add to the deficit. it squeezes the middle-class every day. sustaining the bush tax cuts for the wealthiest americans, people making more than $1 million a year, would add more than $1 trillion to the deficit over the next decade. we can no longer afford to bankrupt our nation to give tax breaks to people who don't need them, people who are putting up accounts in the cayman islands and starking money in switzerland. preens are right about one thing. we do have a deficit problem in this country and there are two ways to ease this crisis. you can cut more jobs for teefns, firefighters and police and federal employees. we could cut social security and medicare benefits for seniors salve a lifetime of hard work. we could put off repairing our crumbling bridges, roads, and
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schools, and we could continue to let our schools fall into disrepair and we could continue talking about things that really don't matter. mr. president, the house keeps talking about bills that they pass that create jobs. everyone -- every pundit that's looked at those knows that it's just subtear tooth. they want to -- that it's just subterfuge. they want to cut regulations. it would make people sicker, our air dirtier and our food less safe. that's what they're doing to create jobs. the other thing we could do to end wasteful, unnecessary -- to cut spending would be to take care of those unnecessary tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. so this is the choice we face. cutting the heart out of america or having the richest of the
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rich contribute just a little bit to the problems that we have in america today as it relates to spending. the choice we face shouldn't be a very difficult choice. this country has limited resources, and we must use those resources wisely. investing in the middle complas is a wise use of those -- in the middle class is a wise use of those resources. when you put money back in the pockets of the middle class, they spend it on groceries and gas and buying new cars, paying their mortgages, paying their rent, they may be even repairing their family car or spending it to fix the roof on their house that's become dilapidated. that spending boosts business, and helps the economy. rigging the system doesn't create jobs, doesn't spur growth and it is not a wise use of our resources.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kentucky. mr. mcconnell: later this morning president obama is scheduled to speak in virginia on the economy. i haven't seen the speech, but i expect he won't be talking about the negative impact his health care bill is already having on job creation. and i guarantee he won't be talking about one provision in particular: the class act. which the house of representatives is voting to repeal today. like so many of his policies, the "class" act hasn't turned out the way the american people were told it would. at the time of its passage, americans were told it would be a long-term care cost saver.
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proponents of the "class" act said it would account for nearly half of the deficit reduction the health care bill would miraculously bring about. more recently the administration has admitted that government officials knew its projections couldn't possibly be true. they knew it wouldn't work as advertised. and yet the obama administration went ahead with it anyway. in 2009, the chief medicare actuary wrote that based on his 36 years of actuarial experience, he believed the "class" act would -- quote -- "collapse in short order and require significant federal subsidies to continue." and that it would lead to what he called an insurance death spiral since only the sickest people would sign up, making it impossible for the program to remain solvent. another health care policy
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official said the program -- quote -- "seemed like a recipe for disaster." so last october the obama administration was finally forced to admit what they refused to admit when the health care bill first passed: that the "class" act was indeed unsustainable. as h.h.s. secretary sebelius put it, there is no viable path forward. for the program. yet for some reason the president is unwilling to follow through on that conclusion by his own administration. he opposes today's vote over in the house. most people would conclude that the administration would support repealing a portion of the health care bill that they now acknowledge isn't financially viable, but they'd be wrong. despite admitting this program is doomed to fail, the obama administration refuses to take
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it off the books. this refusal is all the more remarkable given the fact that president obama has repeatedly said that he's willing to listen to critics of his health care bill if they come up with ways to improve it. when it comes to the "class" ablght, the president doesn't even appear to be willing to listen to himself. well it should be obvious what's going on here. the president is so determined to distract people from his own legislative record that he doesn't even wajts to hav -- dot even want to have a conversation about it. he is so determined to convince people that the ongoing economic crisis is somebody else's fault that he's acting as though the first three years of his presidency never even happened. he refuses to admit the central role his policies have played in prolonging the economic mess that we're in. instead of leading, the president is biding his time, hoping the public will blame somebody else for the jobs crisis. instead of acknowledging the
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effects of his own policies, he's hoping he can change the subject. the problem is, the longer we wait to tackle these problems, the harder they'll be to solve. and, frankly, most americans think the president should be leading that charge, not avoiding it. in 2009, president obama said that rising health care costs were the most pressing fiscal challenge we faced as a nation. yesterday the congressional budget office said government health care costs will double over the next decade. so the verdict is in. the administration looked at an area that both parties agree was in critical need of reform, and they made it worse. and now they won't even admit it. why? because it interferes with the president's reelection strategy. if it's about him or his
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policies, he doesn't want to talk about it. and when it comes to the "class" act, it's easy to see why. so i would encourage our friends over in the house in their efforts today. i hope they send this bill over to the senate with a strong bipartisan vote. if the president won't listen to his own advisors, let's hope he listens to congress on the failures of his health care bill, and in particular the failures of the "class" act. if we're going to replace the president's health care bill with a kind of commonsense reforms the american people really want, repealing the "class" act is a good place to start. and as the house is showing today, if the president refuses to act on this important issue, congress will.
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mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order there will now be a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each, with the time equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees with the republicans controlling the first half and the majority controlling the final half. the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent that i be able to enter into a colloquy with my colleagues from north dakota and nebraska. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. thune: mr. president, the president of the united states says every morning when he gets up, he thinks of what he can do to create jobs. just in the last couple of weeks, he turned thumbs down on a project that would create 20,000 shovel-ready jobs, the keystone x.l. pipeline is a problg that is teed -- is a project that is teed and ready to go. it would create 20,000 jobs
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immediately. and address a really important issue for this country, and that is energy security. we get up and talk about getting away from the dangerous dependence we have on foreign sources of energy, becoming energy independent. and now here we have an opportunity to do just that and at the same time create lots of economic activity here in this country, create lots of jobs and get people in this country back to work. and so it's a mystery to many of us as to why the administration and the president would not find this particular project to be in america's national interest. it really comes down in many respects to whether or not we are going to continue to import the oil, the energy that we need in this country from unfriendly nations. we get about 700,000 barrels a day from venezuela or whether we're going to get that same 700,000 barrels of oil from a friendly neighbor like canada. when you look at that juxtaposition, that comparison and say 700,000 barrels of oil from hugo chavez or 700,000
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barrels of oil from canada, i think most americans would say it makes a lot more sense to do business with a friendly ally to the north. and then also to have that come down into this country, a 1,700 mile pipeline which would transport that oil to refineries in the united states where it would be refined and create jobs there as well. it is a, in almost all respects, mr. president, as you look at the project and the attributes that come with it, the job creation, the investment, the energy security, not to mention the state and local tax revenue which is something that's important to a lot of the people that i represent until south dakota. in fact, i had someone from western south dakota from my office last week and he said, yeah, we care about the energy security issue, the jobs issue and all that. but we really need for our school districts and county governments, the tax revenue that would be generated by this. so you've got all these's alternatives, all these benefits -- all these positives, all these benefits and yet
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having studied it for three years, done multiple environmental impact statements, the last one concluded in august of last year, then lo and behold the president decides that he's not going to move forward with this project. we think that is terribly unfortunate and not in the national interest. we believe it is in the national interest for the project to move forward to address the important energy security needs as well as the needs for job creation and economic growth in this country. two of my colleagues, the former governors, now senators from nebraska and north dakota, are people who are well acquainted with these types of projects. the governor of north dakota was very involved when the first keystone pipeline was built from that, from canada down through north dakota, south dakota, nebraska and points south. and that project went through a permitting process. it was a couple years in the making. it was approved. the construction process was concluded. now it's operational. well, that is a, i think, an
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example of how this project could work. the senator from nebraska, of course, this would cross his state. there were concerns at one time about whether or not it would have the right route in order for this to be done in the best environmental way. those issues have been addressed. the nebraska legislature met in special session. the legislature and the governor of nebraska came up with an alternative idea about how to do this. they have been very supportive of moving forward with this project as well. so the question before the house, mr. president, is if the president of the united states determines that this is not in the national interest, not withstanding the support of lots of members of congress on both sides of the aisle, i think overwhelming support of the states through which this line would traverse, the labor unions are very much supportive of this. interestingly enough, many of the editorial pages across this country, including "the chicago tribune" who said -- and i quote -- "obama's decision will cost the united states jobs. he seems to think those jobs will still be there when he gets
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around to making a decision on the pipeline. but they may be, well, gone for good." end quote. they go on to say this will deny the united states reliable source of oil. i note that canada has never threatened to block the strait of horplz. end quote -- the strait of hormuz. they recognize the importance of this project, the importance of energy independence and the fact that if we don't benefit from this, it will go somewhere else. they made it abundantly clear that this is not something that if the united states turns down, there is going to continue to wait around until some point in the future when we might consider it. they're going to go somewhere else with it, probably china. so for all those reasons, we believe that we need to advance this project and do everything tweak move it forward. so my -- we can to move it forward. my colleagues have come up with a piece of legislation that recognizes the role of the congress under the commerce clause and our ability to approve this project. and i would hope that we would get an opportunity to discuss and debate this issue here in
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the united states senate, to get a vote on this, perhaps get a vote as well in the house of representatives, where congress could weigh in on this, perhaps change the president's mind about this important project. and so i'm glad to be with my colleagues today. i'm going to yield to the senator from north dakota and the senator from nebraska, both of whom have been great leaders on this particular issue and on all issues that relate to energy security in our country, because they understand very well both the history of this as well as its importance to america's future. i would ask the senator from north dakota if he'd like to give us a little bit of an insight about how this keystone x.l. pipeline number 1, which was built through his state a few years ago, the history of that and the history of how this particular project was put forward as well and why we think it ought to go forward. the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota is recognized. mr. hoeven: thank you, mr. president. i'd like to thank the senator from south dakota for organizing
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this colloquy. i'd like to thank the good senator from nebraska for skwroeupbgs as well. i appreciate -- for joining us as well. i appreciate working with them on this project which is not only vital to our state, but vital to our country. as the senator from south dakota said, this project is critically important to our country for a number of reasons. first, it will create tens of thousands of jobs. a $7 billion investment. not one penny of federal government spending. all private-sector investment. more than $7 billion. the perry man group projected when they did a study on job creation, it would create 20,000 construction jobs right away. and it would create upwards of 100,000 spinoff jobs as you expand refineries and with the other economic activity created. some want to dispute those job numbers. but any way you look at it, you're talking tens of thousands of jobs created by the private
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sector, which is why it has song strong union -- which is why it has such strong union support. at a time we have 13-plus million people out of work and we need the jobs. as the good senator from south dakota said, it will generate hundreds of millions in tax revenues for a growing economy, more economic activity. last i checked, that's pretty important at the local, state and federal level to have those revenues coming in. in addition, it will reduce our dependence on oil from the middle east. with what's going on in iran, and their threatening to blockade the strait of hormuz, with gas prices at $3.50 a gallon roughly, going up, it's very important to the consumers and the business of this country that we have oil that we produce in this country and from our closest ally canada rather than relying on the middle east. and the third point, this oil will be produced. if we don't build the pipeline
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capacity to bring it to our refineries to be refined, it goes to china. that's a fact. it will be produced. it will either go to china or it will come to us. i've got this chart here, and to give you a little history of the project, because as the good senator from south dakota said, this project has been under review for more than three years. trans-canada, the company that's trying to build the pipeline, built the keystone pipeline already. that's this red line. that project was approved in two years. again, keystone x.l. had been under study for more than three years. the sister pipeline has already been built, and that was approved in two years. it comes from alberta canada, down to the refineries in the patuka, illinois, area. this project, again -- let me back up for just a minute. the existing project comes through north dakota, which is
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why i worked with it when i was governor of north dakota. it comes through south dakota and it comes down through nebraska. the keystone x.l. comes just to the west. i point that out because for the balkan oil play in north dakota and montana, it is very important that we have the ability to put oil into this pipeline. we're looking at putting 100,000 barrels a day of united states crude into this pipeline so it can get to our refineries. in other words, it's not just about being canadian crude to our refineries. it's about bringing our own crude to our refineries. why is that important? it saves wear and tear on our roads. it's an important safety issue because it reduces the truck traffic. we're talking 500 truckloads a day, 17 million truck miles a year that we don't have to put on our roads, we don't have to have the traffic issues, the safety issues or the road issues in our country because we have the ability to move the product with this pipeline let's take a
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quick look at this time line. september 2008 -- i know this is hard to read but i want to make an important point. september 2008, trans-canada applies for a permit for the keystone x.l. pipeline. in november of 2008 the current administration is elected. so for the entire time that the current administration has been in office, they've held up this project. it's gone through the full nepa process. they have had the full environmental impact studies done. even the state department said that there would be a decision before the end of last year. so for the entire time that the administration is in office, trans-canada is working to go through the process with e.p.a. and the department of state, and the department of state says they'll have a decision before the end of last year. but we still don't have a decision. you have to ask why.
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why don't we have a decision? and that's what we're talking about. it is long past time to act. let's just take a look. what are we talking about really? let's get down to what we're really talking about. we're talking about another pipeline, aren't we? we're talking about another pipeline. just like the one that's already been built. and how about hundreds or maybe i should say thousands of pipelines that we already have. but somehow we can't build this pipeline? it doesn't make any sense. somebody needs to explain this to us. so we have legislation with 45 senators. 45 senators. 45 sponsors that are saying, hey, it's time to move forward. it's time to build the project. and, as a matter of fact, we're doing everything we can. we are doing everything we can to address any and all problems or concerns the administration
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has raised. and that's why i'm going to turn it over now to my good colleague from nebraska, because when the administration says, hey, there's an issue, when state or e.p.a. says hey, there's an issue, we have stepped up in our legislation and we've solved it. we said, hey, okay, great, let's address it but let's move forward for the good of our economy and the good of our country. i would defer now to the good senator from nebraska. mr. johanns: thank you, mr. president. i appreciate the comments that have been offered by my colleagues from south dakota and from north dakota. they absolutely have it right in terms of the importance of constructing this pipeline. there is no question that we are in a dire situation in this nation. we need the jobs. we need the oil. and this pipeline can take a
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significant step forward in both regards. i think the pipeline will be a huge help in those areas. but let me start by noting that i was a cosponsor of the first keystone bill. i'm also a cosponsor of the bill that senators hoeven and lugar and vitter introduced just this past monday, the bill that we're talking about today. now, here's a very important point from my state. in both cases -- and specifically in reference to this bill -- the effort was specifically crafted to safeguard the route selection process that is occurring in nebraska, and i thank my colleagues for recognizing that work and recognizing that nebraska has a process that will nearly completion this august or september. they have worked very, very hard
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to take into account our issues, and their bill recognizes the nebraska effort will continue. they decided in our state -- the governor and the legislature and trans-canada -- to work on an alternative to the proposed route. recognition occurred that the route through nebraska involves some very, very sensitive land, the sand hills, and a very sensitive water supply, the ogallala aquifer. the governor called a special session, like we do in nebraska, everybody sat down and said, how do we scofl this problem? they came to an agreement that the best way to solve the problem is to do an environmental impact statement, which will be no cost to the federal government. it will be paid for by nebraskans. that was part of the provision of this agreement.
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and trans-canada agreed that they would work to reroute the pipeline through our state. everybody shook hands. we are now in agreement. our problem is a solved in nebraska. for months and months, the federal government has been saying to the state of nebraska, you have the power to route this pipeline through your state, and that's exactly what we are doing. so this legislation recognizes that agreement and says, great, we're going to allow nebraska to move forward. but, very wisely, this legislation also recognizes that there is no need whatsoever for any delay on the remainder of this pipeline. this was the only segment -- and it is a handful of miles in our state -- that anybody was really contesting.
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so why not issue the permit? why not get the project going? well, my colleagues worked very hard on coming up with a solution, and their solution works, and it says construction can begin immediately. why? because, as my colleague from north dakota has explained well, congress has constitutional authority to regulate foreign commerce. so the bill exercises that power in a thoughtful, deliberate, careful way. it says, look, this project has gone through three years of study and analysis. it specifically notes this this legislation that the part in nebraska will be solved, as the federal government has been saying for months, by nebraska officials but that we can go forward and start construction elsewhere. so what's holding up the
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creation of these jobs? what's holding up our ability to get more oil from places like north dakota and a friendly ally like canadae versus a very unfriendly ally in hugh gao chavez in venezuela? what's holding that up? what could possibly be holding that up? the simple answer to that question is, the president of the united states is holding it up. he is in a bind. the environmentalists have declared war on the oil sands in canada. they don't want the pipeline because they don't want the oil sands. on the other hand, the unions want to build the pipeline. they want the jobs. thoughtfully so. well, this is a time where congress does need to step in and exercise our constitutional powers. it is nothing unusual. in fact, there was a recent
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opinion by the congressional research service that said you have the power to do exactly what this legislation is doing. so i'll wrap up my comments today and defer -- or yield my -- yield the time back to the senator from south dakota and north dakota and just say this: this is a win-win situation for everybody. it's a win because we create jobs. it's a win for our country that is trying in every way possible to get the federal government to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. maybe the only person it is not a win for is president obama and his reelection. but this is a case where we need to put national interest ahead of november. and i urge my colleagues to support this legislation. it was thoughtfully crafted. it is the right approach, and i
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thank them for their sensitivity to the process going on in the state of nebraska. mr. thune: i appreciate the senator from nebraska's hard work on this subject as well and the senator from north dakota and he have fashioned a solution which i think does give us the opportunity as the cooing to assert our role under the constitution -- under the commerce clause in the constitution to move this process forward notwithstanding the opposition really of one person, the president of the united states, who is the person right now who is standing in the way of this. and i would just again say to my colleague from north dakota as we wrap up here that, you know, i hear people say, this needs to be studied further. you know, we need to do more analysis. and it just is sort of mind-boggling to thing that after more than 1,200 days of study, analysis, review, scrutiny that people would come to that conclusion.
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the keystone x.l. pipeline, which the senator is well-acquainted with because it goes through his state, took 693 days in the process of getting approved of the and what's interesting to me about this particular project is that 1,200 days, longer than any of the pipelines this magnitude, extended review, more than 10,000 pages of environmental analysis concluded -- concluded -- that the pipeline will not adversely impact the environment. and when the announcement was made to deny the construction of the pipeline, the state department still had five weeks to review it, if they had chosen to use it. clearly, the announcement wasn't based on policy but on political exspeexexpediency. so my colleague from north dakota, who there is a tremendous amount of resource in his state, could benefit as well from this. you have the potential to generate somewhere around the order of 500,000 barrels of oil in north dakota, about 100,000
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of which i'm told could be moved through this pipeline, if it is approved, and it just seems to me at least again, here's a resource, and energy reserve in our country in your state where -- that could benefit people in this country. and, by the way, in 2011, americans spent more on gasoline than any other year since 1981. and report indicats indicated r2 could be worse. not having our own oil produced in this country, that's a very real impact. since the president has taken office, the gas price has gone from $1.84 a gallon to over $3.30 a gallon. and this pipeline could be part of that solution. i want to just end by a quote that the state department and their review of the pipeline canadian. the department of energy i should say, but it was part of the state department's review. they noted, "gasoline prices in
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all markets served by east coast and gulf coast refineries would decrease, including the midwest." that's coming from the state department's review, the department of energy, gasoline prices and all markets served by east coast and gulf coast refineries. once its operation acialg the jobs that would be created in this country to refine this oil. it is a win-win, as you heard from the senator from nebraska. initially their state had some concerns about the route. it has been resolved. this thing can move forward. thi hope the senator's bill geta vote here in the united states senate. i look forward to working with you. mr. hoeven: i'd like to thank my colleague from south dakota for organizing this colloquy this morning. i would like to thank both him
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and the esteemed senator from nebraska for their support of this legislation. again, we have taken a problem-solving approach to legislation. we're continuing to do that. and so we will continue to work with the other members of the senate and our colleagues in the house. we need the administration to engage with us on this important issue for the good of the american people. again, thanks to my colleague from south dakota. mr. thune: mr. president, with that, we yield back the balance of our time. the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota yields back the balance of his time. mr. thune: i ask that the senate be in a quorum call. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. whitehouse: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. white house bhows are we in mornin-- mr. whitehouse: are we in morning business? the presiding officer: yes, we are. mr. whitehouse: are we in a quorum call? officer yes. mr. whitehouse: i ask that the quorum be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: i rise today at that introduce legislation that would address some loopholes in the tax codes that provide for superhigh-income americans, ways to pay lower tax
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rates than are paid by regular hardworking middle-class families. these middle-class families feel that they are struggling to get by, and then they find out that some people with really extremely high incomes are actually paying a lower tax rate than they are. that's, to them, just not common sense and i think that's just to all of us not common sense. americans deserve a straight deal and right now they are not getting one from our tax systeme unfairness of our current tax system, we don't have to look much farther than the national headlines. according to a forbes magazine report last fall, billionaire warren buffett -- and i quote -- "paid just 11.06% of his adjusted gross income in federal
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income taxes in 2010." mr. buffet is the first to express his dismay at this circumstance and acknowledges that he rate he pays is lower than the thabgs rate paid by -- than the tax rate paid by his own correction. mr. buffet called for a correction of this anomaly, and i tkpwra with him, and so do president obama who in his state of the union address said washington should stop subsidizing millionaires. i agree. we should celebrate the success of people who are earning $1 million and more a year, but we really don't, particularly in this time of tight budgets and hard choices, need to subsidize that. the legislation that i've introduced today, the paying a fair share act of 2012, would ensure that those with extremely high incomes pay at least a minimum federal tax rate of 30%. i want to thank senators akaka, begich, leahy, harkin,
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blumenthal, and sanders for being initial cosponsors of this measure. the structure of our bill is pretty simple. if your total income, capital gains included, is over $1 million, you calculate your taxes under the regular system. if your effective tax rate turns out to be greater than 30%, you pay that rate. if, on the other hand, your effective tax rate is under 30%, like warren buffett's 11%, then you'd pay the fair share tax rate. after collecting input from some of my colleagues, i've also included a provision to allow the fair share tax to be gradually phased in for taxpayers earning between $1 million and $2 million per year. taxpayers earning less than $1 million, which is 99.9% of all americans, wouldn't be affected by this bill at all. taxpayers earning over $2 million would be subject to the
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30% minimum federal tax rate. and those in between $1 million and $2 million would pay on a phased-in basis a portion of the extra tax required to get up to the 30% effective tax rate. this way we make sure that no taxpayer faces a tax cliff where earning an additional dollar of income increases his or her taxes by more than a dollar. in his state of the union address on tuesday, president obama called for legislation to ensure that the highest-earning taxpayers pay at least a 30% tax rate. the fair share act would do just that. to call our tax system fair, i believe the highest-income americans should pay a higher rate, not a lower one, than middle-income taxpayers. for more context, let's take a look again, because i have given this speech over and over again on the floor, at how super-high
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income tax earners fare. this is the helmsley building. it is on park avenue. it is so big, it has its own zip code. because the internal revenue service publishes information about tax payments by zip code, you can see what the tax payments are that come out of this building. and what we find out with the latest information that the i.r.s. has published is that the average filer has an adjusted gross income of over $1 million in the helmsley building, but the average tax payment out of that building is only 14.7%. to provide a little context for that, if you look at what the average new york city janitor or the average new york city security guard pays in terms of of an effective all-in federal tax rate, it's 23.8% for the security guard and 24.9% for the
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janitor. so at this point it looks like the people who are very successful occupants of the helmsley building pay an actual lower federal tax rate than the people who come in and clean the building. and that does not seem fair or sensible. one might say, well, maybe it's just, you know, something about the helmsley building that causes it. but it's not. despite leona helmsley's infamous line that it's only the little people who pay the taxes, it's a broader issue than that. take a look at the income tax information about the highest-earning 400 americans. in the same way that the i.r.s. ago tkpwre gates information by zip -- aggregates information by zip code it takes the 400 highest top income earns and takes aggregate on them.
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2008, the last year the i.r.s. assembled, they had an average income each of $270 million, which certainly is something to be proud of and to celebrate, if you can achieve that kind of success. but the average tax rate paid by the 400 was only 18.2%, which is considerably apart from the discussions we've been having in the senate about what the top income tax rate should be. we discuss often whether the top income tax rate should be 35% or should be 39.6%. it was 39.6%, for instance, during the booming clinton economy. it's now 35%, spending on where the tax cut discussion goes, it may go back up again. but that really is not what a large number of these very high income earners pay. in fact, the top 400 aren't anywhere near that. they're half that at 18.2%. so we're supposed to have a graduated tax code with people who are progressively graduated
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with people who earn more, paying a higher rate. let's see who else pays an 18.2% rate. we looked at labor statistics information for a single filer earning $39,350. that's where you hit an 18.2% tax rate. just like the 400 who made $225 million each on average. they are in the same bracket as someone who earns $40,000. if you look at the type of jobs that hit that area, according to the bureau of labor statistics, in the rhode island labor market, a truck driver earns on average $40,200. so you have a truck driver paying the same rate of federal tax as somebody earning $225 million in a year. i think there's plenty of room
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for correction here and bring our t in line to the -- bring it in line to the principle which is it is a progressive tax system. the more you earn, the more you pay, not the other way around where at the other extreme you pay lower than most americans. the helmsley building is one building that has a story to tell us. here is another building with a story to tell. this is a building called ugland house. it is in the tax haven cayman islands. it doesn't look like much, does it? i don't want to say it is a crummy little building, but it certainly doesn't compare to a lot of other business buildings. but it does have something remarkable happening within it. it has 18,000 corporations that claim to be doing business out of this location. 18,000 corporations in this little five-story building. it gives a new meaning to the
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phrase "small business." as our budget chairman, kent conrad, has pointed out, the only business going on in ugland house is funny business with our tax code. shell companies that hide assets and dodge tax liabilities. mr. president, it does not make sense that our tax system permits the highest-income americans to pay a lower tax rate than a truck driver pays. and it doesn't make sense that we allow americans and american companies to, by the thousands, to hide income in offshore tax havens like this. if you look at the rates that are paid, warren buffett 11.6%, the occupants of the helmsley building on average 14.7%, and the 400 $225 million a year earners on average 18.2%. and you look at the fact that we have multitrillion-dollar budget
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deficits, it means that the taxes they're not paying at the nominal 35% rate, are taxes that somebody else ends up having to pay either through deficit or through additional taxation. so this is why the fair share act makes a lot of common sense. and i hope that senators on both sides of the aisle will take a good look at it. this bill would do a lot of good things. it would simplify taxes. there is no point chasing loopholes if you know you're going to have to pay the 30% minimum. it will simplify that. it would discourage the exotic tax dodges that allow people to go down to 14% or whatever tax rates, because they know they're going to get caught at 30%. so why do the effort and the exotic tax dodges will be discouraged. it will reduce the deficit. we don't have a number yet from the joint committee on taxation, but the public reporting so far has suggested it's going to be
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in the $40 billion to $50 billion range per year. of course it will bring fairness as well as common sense to our tax system. it really makes no sense for somebody earning $80,000 or $100,000 or $120,000 a year to be paying a stupbl higher tax rate than somebody earning $225 million a year. there are a lot of advantages that come with enormous income, and that's a great thing because america thrives on capitalism, and we all love success. we celebrate success in america. we provide a, an economy and a culture in which people can accomplish remarkable things and create enormous fortunes and become enormously successful. and that is part of what is good and what is right with america. they do it through hard work. they do it through being smarter than other people. they do it with a lot of good personal characteristics. but with all the advantages that
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do come with enormous income, paying a lower tax rate than regular working families should not be one of those advantages. i hope we can get together to correct this, and i look forward to working with my colleagues on this issue. and i yield the floor. i thank you, madam president. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. durbin: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: too many americans are out of work. we know that. without a steady income, it is hard for families to stay current on their monthly expenses. we've all talked about the consequences of losing a job and when i meet with the unemployed in illinois, one of the first things we talk about is health insurance because that's one of the first casualties. it is very difficult, if not impossible, for someone unemployed to maintain cobra payments once they're out of work. they will a deplete their savings and find themselves in a vulnerable position.
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some fall behind on mortgage payments. more than 4 million families lost their homes during the housing crisis which began in 2008. another 10.7 million americans own mortgages under water. it was interesting, one of the major mortgage bank associations in washington, d.c., recently had a short sale of their headquarters building in washington. they went under water. they couldn't pay their mortgage. they ended up selling. it's happening not just to business obviously but to a lot of home owns. it is hard to keep up with these basic expenses. a lot of people who used to donate to food banks are now in line at the food banks trying to supplement their incomes. according to the u.s. department of agriculture, one out of six americans really have a food issue. they're hungry. it's the highest level since the government started take these numbers in 1995. but there is another obligation, financial obligation, that needs a little more focus here in washington.
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private student loan debt is becoming the biggest burden for families across america. student loan debt in october of 2010 for the first time in our history surpassed credit card debt in america. at public universities, the average debt for a graduating student was $20,200. at private nonprofits, $27,650. for students of for-profit colleges, the debt burden is even greater. students at for-profit colleges graduated with an average debt of $33,000. more than three out of four young adults say that college has become harder to afford in the past five years, almost as many say that graduates have more student debt than they can possibly among. there are few penalties for schools whose students incur huge amounts of debts when the kids can't repay their loans.
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how did we reach this point? two trends have led to this phenomenal level of student loan debt. first, the for-profit college industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the last decade. it is the fastest-growing sector of higher education. three numbers put it in perspective. 10% of students out of high school end up in for-profit schools, 10%. yet for-profit schools consume 25% of all the federal aid to education and account for 44% of student loan defaults. what's the obvious conclusion? their drawing in, these for-profit colleges, more student loan assistance from the federal government than their counterparts in the public and nonprofit area, and, secondly, their students, deep in debt, can't find jobs to pay off their debts and gault on their loans. second, the cost of college is
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so far out of reach for most people, they exhaust their ability to borrow from the government and end up taking out private loans. these private loans are not federally guaranteed. the issuer is not required to work with you to consolidate the loans or restructure them in the future. if that sound familiar, that's because many of the banks issuing these loans are the same bank holding your mortgage. even more outrageous, these loans are protected in bankruptcy. what that means is, unlike other loans that we would incur in our lives that we might bring into a bankruptcy court in desperation, these loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. these loans will trail the borrowers to their graves. student loan decisions made at the age of 19, 20, and 21 years of age end up being a lifetime of responsibility. yesterday one of the presidents of a small, very good college in illinois said that so many
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students that she meets with who are interested in going to school are debt-numb. they don't even understand debt as it might affect them today and tomorrow. and, unfortunately, these for-profit schools -- and many others -- are taking advantage of students with little or no life experience who end up many times with their parents signing up for student loan debt that is unconscionable, at levels they'll never be able to repie in any reasonable time and often when it comes to for-profit schools for worthless diplomas, if the student is lucky enough to finish. one of my constituents, hanna moore, recently contacted my office regarding her outstanding student debt. you wanted to bring this to the attention of the senate. in 2007, hanna graduated with a bachelor of arts from a for-profit school. it is called the herington college of design. it was part of the career
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education cooperation program. when hanna graduated in 2007 from the herington college of design, her student debt was $124,570. after she exhausted all her federal student loan options, she turned to private loans when she wanted to finish and get a degree. at first she tried to manage her payments of close to $800 a month by working three jobs. her federal loan is a reasonable payment because she signed up for the income-based repayment program. but the private loan demands are unreasonable. when the payments became unmanageable, she tried to work pout a plan with her lender. they refused. she said -- pardon me, she said that she speaks to her lender about mont once a month asking r assistance with no help. when it became apparent that she wouldn't be able to afford the payments, her family offered to
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help. her dad got a job just to help her make the student loan repayments. her parents spend their life stressing over her loans with her. hanna is 30 years old, wants to be independent but her student debt of over $124,000 is making that impossible. with the help of her family, dad going back to work and all she can do, she makes her monthly payments. but her life is still very much on hold. she said, my education doesn't feel rewarding. it is a burden. when asked how her student loan debt is affecting her life, she said, i can't start a family, can't buy a house, can't even buy a car. she rides her bike to work. think about that. she went to college, she stuck with it, she graduated with a degree of no value and $124,000 in student debt. she isn't alone. every week i hear from constituents who are seeking
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relief, and i invite them to come to my web site and tell me their stories about student loan debt in america. last week the president in his state of the union spoke about a plan to keep the cost of higher education from going even further. his proposal will provide better information to families while enlisting colleges and state governments to partner with the federal government to keep costs down while improving student outcomes. to make sure students and families have accurate information, the president has proposed creating a college scorecard for all institutions of higher education, all of them. the scorecard will provide families with clear, concise information about affordability and student outcomes, how many students go to the school and finish, how many that finish with a degree get a job. it is a pretty basic question. then students and their families can make a good choice. they won't be overwhelmed by the spam and ads tossed at them on the internet. the plan would reward schools
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that provide a good value and serve low-income students and set responsible tuition policies. these schools will be rewarded with additional campus-based financial aid. the president's proposal builds on the success of the current race-to-the-top program by creating a new race-to-the-top program rewarding college affordability and completion. this race-to-the-top challenge will incentivize governors and state legislatures to join us in keeping tuition costs down. following the president's challenge of keeping college costs down, the senate "help" committee is holding a hearing this week on college affordability. i thank them for that. it is long overdue and i look forward to working with senators harkin and enzi on this i can and let me say that this closing. a hearing that we had just a week or so ago in chicago on the abuse of the g.i. bill education rights by for-profit schools should be a wake-up call to every member of congress.
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holly petraeus, the wife of general petraeus, testified. she works at the consumer financial protection bureau, an agency which is in the news and controversial because his executive director, richard cordray, who was announced and appointed by the president when the senate refused. the speeches criticize the agency which some republicans loathe and despise. butness it is in the law -- but it is in the law and those who are critical of it should meet. holly petraeus is trying to stop the abuses of for-profit schools when it comes to the g.i. bill. that is something we should old join together on, democrats and republicans alike. the men and women who serve us in the military are entitled not only to the g.i. bill but to institutions of learning that give them a chance to take their
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time in school and turn it into a much better life for themselves and their families. i hope that we can come together on the question of affordability and on tyke ag taking a closer t the institutions. madam president, at this time, i would like to ask three unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate with the approval of the majority and minority leaders. i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. lieberman: i ask unanimous consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of s. 2038 which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 301, s. 2038, a bill to prohibit
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members of congress and employees of congress from using nonpublic information derived from their official positions for personal benefit and for other purposes. mr. lieberman: i thank the chair. madam president, it's a new day, and with it comes the hope that we will make some more progress than we did yesterday. actually we were prepared after some good work by the four of us, senator collins, senator brown, the occupant of the chair, senator gillibrand, and a our staffs to 0 mover forward, unfortunately, we were blocked in that but efforts continue to allow to us at least proceed with the amendment that senator paul introduced that was modified or prepared to be modified after discussion with i think a reasonable conclusion that will be supported by most members of the senate. there's so much that we can do here, our staffs worked oversight, overnight, tried to
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divide the amendments into those that are germane and relevant, those that are not. we understand leadership on both sides will be talking about how to proceed. i repeat what i said at the outset. all of us who worked so hard on this to respond to the concern that members of congress and our staffs are not covered by insider trading laws, that we not try to solve every problem or correct every potential source of public mistrust of congress on this bill for fear that we will therefore never get anything accomplished. and i'm hopeful that as the morning goes on and certainly into the afternoon, after discussions that occur at lunch hour, that we will be able to proceed to handle some amendments in an expeditious way and that we can see our way to the end of consideration of this bill. remembering that on the basic provisions of the bill, we have overwhelming bipartisan support. i understand that the vote on
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cloture to proceed does not exactly express support for the final vote, but there were only two who voted against cloture so clearly the overwhelming number of members of the senate want to proceed to vote on the bill. if we don't break this unfortunate and really unnecessary and harmful gridlock, either the majority leader is going to have to file cloture or leave the bill and go on to other pressing business, the f.a.a. reauthorization, and the like. and that would be, i think, not only disappointing to us but having aroused the hope that we would respond to the public concern, anger about the possibility that we're not covered by insider trading laws, we will have ended up increasing that concern and anger and disenchantment with congress and i don't think any of us want to do that. and with that appeal to our
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colleagues to apply a certain rule of reason here so we can get something done that will be good for our government and the people's respect for us, i'm very pleased to see my colleague from connecticut, senator blumenthal here. i know he has an amendment he wants to offer at this time and by yield the floor to him. mr. blumenthal: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you to the presiding officer, distinguished senator from new york and to my colleague,the senator lieberman, senator brown, and senator collins for your superb leadership on this issue and i'm very pleased to strongly support the underlying bill, senate 1261, and i ask unanimous consent that the pending amendments be set aside. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: i also ask unanimous consent to call up amendment number 1498.
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the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from connecticut, mr. blumenthal, for himself and mr. kirk proposes amendment numbered 1498 to amendment number 1470. at the appropriate place, insert the following, section, application to other elected officials in criminal offenses. a, application to other elected officials. one, civil service retirement -- mr. blumenthal: madam president, i ask unanimous consent the reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: thank you. essentially this amendment very simply and directly assures that members of congress who may be prosecuted and convicted of the offenses specified in senate s. 1261 also should see their pensions revoked. along with potentially other
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crimes that they may have committed. the purpose essentially is to assure the credibility of congress by revoking pensions of corrupt members of congress. not only those that may be convicted under this pending bill, insider trading, but also a variety of other public corruption offenses. in fact, the amendment adds 22 new public corruption offenses to existing law that merit cancellation or revoking of congressional pensions. i've worked with this amendment with senator kirk, who, unfortunately, could not be with us today. he and his staff have been integral. it is a bipartisan proposed statute that is similar to the one that i worked to enact in connecticut when i was the attorney general there. and the guiding principle is absolutely crystal clear, consistent with the basic
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measure we're considering. not one dime of taxpayer money should go to corrupt elected officials. over the past 60 years, 50 -- over the past 50 years, members of congress have been convicted of 16 separate felonies, so the need for this measure is considerable, even if it is a small minority of the members of congress. and in fact, right now approximately $800 a year are -- 8 not hundred thousand dollars a year are paid to members of congress have been convicted of these kinds of felonies. so i want to particularly thank senator kirk and quote him, since he could not be here today. he said earlier this year of this legislation, and i'm quoting, "american taxpayers should not be on the hook for
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pension benefits of convicted felons. expanding current law to include additional public corruption felonies will block pension benefits for members of congress who fail to honor their pledge to defend the constitution and uphold the laws of the united states. once you have violated the public trust, in that way, i think that the taxpayers should not be supporting your retirement" -- end of quote. in short, very simply, a breach of law by an elected official is a serious offense that should have consequences. taxpayers should not pay for the retirement benefits of elected officials convicted of a felony, members of congress, anyone else, especially as the united states faces the soaring deficits that it does now and the crippling debt that grows even higher. i urge my colleagues to support
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this amendment, and i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. shelby: i ask unanimous consent that the pending amendment be set aside and i call up my amendment numbered -- the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. shelby: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. shelby: madam president, i ask unanimous consent now that the pending amendment be set
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aside and that i be able to call up my amendment number 1491, which is at the desk. the presiding officer: without objection. is there an objection? without objection. the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from alabama, mr. shelby, proposes amendment numbered 1491 to amendment numbered 1470. on page 7, line 7, strike a, insert each officer or employee as referred to in sub shock -- subsection f -- mr. shelby: i ask that further reading of amendment be dispensed with and that i be allowed to speak on it for a period of up to five minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. shelby: madam president, i rise today to talk about the amendment that i have offered, amendment numbered 1491 to the stock act. right now, the stock act, as it is written, does not apply its public disclosure requirements to the executive branch or independent agencies. the amendment that i have
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offered here this afternoon, this morning, ensures the public disclosure of all trading by senior government officials. yes, i'm going to say it again. my amendment ensures the public disclosure of all trading by senior government officials. this is a very reasonable amendment, as it is limited to the executive branch and independent agency personnel who are already subject to the reporting requirements. my amendment merely expands the enhanced disclosure requirements under the stock act to these current filers. without this amendment, madam president, it would be impossible for the public to know whether executive branch officials are complying with the stock act. the public should be able to monitor trades of all executive and legislative branch officials in the same manner. let's not make congress transparent while leaving the
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executive branch and independent agencies in the dark. ironically, the disclosure provisions of the stock act currently do not apply to the securities and exchange commission, their employees and so forth, the body that will be responsible for enforcing such provisions on congress. that's nonsense. the s.e.c., which has access to vast financial markets information, should be held to the same standards it has been charged with enforcing. my amendment will apply the disclosure provisions of the stock act to all branches, ensuring transparency for all in government. i appreciate the willingness of the chairman and ranking member of the homeland security and government affairs committee to work with me. i look forward to working with them, more to improve public disclosure for both the executive and legislative branches. i yield the floor. mr. lieberman: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut.
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mr. lieberman: madam president, i want to thank my friend from alabama for coming to the floor, submitting his amendment. i agree that there should be parity between the legislative and executive branch branches wherever it's appropriate. i'm very happy to work with him on this. but i -- i must say that yesterday we made some progress on a somewhat similar amendment with senator paul to appropriately scope the amendment on requiring executive branch officials to report on their financial traction -- transactions to senate-confirmed positions. i don't know whether that's the resolution here or not, but i think we should work on it. i do want to state for the record that the executive branch is not free of conflict of interest regulations. in fact, in some sense, you might say that they have -- they
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have tougher restrictions. even securities and exchange commission employees have to get permission before they can make stock transactions and then have to file disclosures, not within 30 days or ten days, but within two days, i believe. so, you know -- and there are many other regulations on them. i think part of what's going on here is the nature of the two branches. here in congress to deal with conflicts of interest, we have focused on a system of disclosure and transparency. we have embraced the adage that sunlight is the best disinfectant. in contrast, the executive branch actually addresses potential conflicts of interest through not just transparency but statutory mandates that
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require the investity -- vestiture of stock and recusal from being involved in handling anything that relates to any interest, personal interest that an individual in the executive branch has. there is a very extensive system of high-ranking agency officials being forced to divest themselves of conflicting stock holdings, obviously sometimes at a financial loss. now, that wouldn't really -- there would be an amendment to come up on that, but to do it exactly in the way -- at least on the recusal sections that the executive branch does it wouldn't really be appropriate for members of congress because members are called on to vote on issues across the widest array of


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